I can't help noticing there have been an awful lot of sinkholes opening in the ground lately. Are we under attack from some malevolent, subterranean menace? How long before the Earth swallows us all? —Caryn S.

You're not just whistling Dixie there, C. There were at least two sinkholes on major Portland streets just last week, and another one earlier in April. What with all the sandworms, graboids and C.H.U.D.s honeycombing our formerly solid ground, it seems we can scarcely trot over to the Kwik-E-Mart for a pack of Ho Hos these days without pitching headlong into a sarlacc pit.

Naturally, the city is trying to hush up the holes' paranormal origins. "The ground has been settling, and the soil has become saturated. With hot weather, the asphalt softens, vehicles go over it, and if there's an existing void, the asphalt can separate under the weight of the vehicles and form a sinkhole," said the Transportation Bureau's Cheryl Kuck, the floor beneath her desk lurching sickeningly as she spoke.

Yes, fellow townsfolk, authorities would have us believe that "water"—which, apparently, just falls magically from the sky—erodes the soil supporting the concrete roadbed, which then sinks due to some invisible, mysterious force called "gravity." A likely story, especially when I practically saw a giant tentacle come out of the ground and take my keys. (At least, I can't find them anywhere.)

How long do we have before this reign of underground terror results in the complete breakdown of civil society into primitive superstition cults that use human children as food and fuel? It's difficult to say.

In the meantime, I suggest we grab some pitchforks and torches, ban heavy-metal music, and start making with the human sacrifices. The end is near! Let me just grab my keys…got 'em. OK, let's roll.